Hot Tigers Toast Delta Devils

Auburn pounded out 14 hits and held Mississippi Valley State to four hits in a 10-2 victory Wednesday night.

Auburn, Ala.--True freshman catcher Tony Caldwell went 4-4 with three runs scored and Auburn pitchers held Mississippi Valley State to just one hit the final eight innings in a 10-2 baseball victory Wednesday night at Plainsman Park.

With the win Auburn improves to 22-12 while the Delta Devils fall to 13-14.

The story of the night for Auburn was the pitching of relievers Bradley Hendrix, Taylor Thompson and Michael Hurst. Picking things up in the second inning, the duo allowed just one hit while striking out 10 batters.

Particularly impressive was Thompson. In three innings he didn't allow a walk or a hit and struck out four. Coach Tommy Slater said it was good to see Thompson continue his progression on the mound.

"We didn't walk anybody so it was much better," Slater said of the pitching performance that included only a pair of walks after the staff threw a season-high 10 on Tuesday night vs. Georgia State. "Those guys really threw the ball well, every one of them. There were lots of strikes. That's what we're looking for.

"Coach (Butch) Thompson has done a great job with him," Slater said of Taylor Thompson. "He's developed a new pitch. He was throwing a split and that wasn't really what we were looking for. He's calling it a fosh. He's spreading the fingers a little bit and moving the thumb up. That's his swing and miss pitch. He's really doing a good job. Taylor pitched tonight. That was fun to watch."

Catcher Tony Caldwell had a big night at the plate for the Tigers.

At the plate Auburn had production from several different areas as Caldwell's four hits led the way with David Cunningham adding three hits and three runs scored. Also Ben Jones, Matt Hall and Hunter Morris had two hits each as part of a 14-hit night for the Tigers. The star of the show was Caldwell though and he said it was just nice to do his part.

"I saw the ball well tonight," Caldwell said as he raised his average from .171 to .256 in one game. "I got some good pitches to hit and put some good swings on them. It's a blast to watch all these players play. You don't know who is going to come out and have a good night. Everyone in the lineup can have one."

Getting the start as has become customary in the mid-week, freshman Cory Luckie allowed a single run in the first inning as the Delta Devils collected three hits to take the early 1-0 lead, but Auburn didn't let that last long.

In the bottom of the first center fielder Jones, in to give Trent Mummey a rest, worked a walk to get the inning underway.

Up next, shortstop Hall moved Jones to third with a sacrifice bunt. Following a Mike Bianucci fly out to right field, Morris stepped to the plate looking to give the Tigers the lead. Just missing a double to right field early in the count, Morris lifted a fly ball just over the K Corner in right field for his sixth homer of the season. The blast put Auburn up 2-1 with Hendrix coming to the mound.

Hunter Morris homered for the sixth time this season in the win.

Keeping MVSU scoreless in the second, Auburn came back to break open the game in the bottom of the inning. With one out Caldwell doubled off the wall in right field and quickly moved to third on a single to left field by Cunningham. Jones followed with a perfect bunt single that scored Caldwell to make it 3-1 Tigers.

An infield single by Hall then loaded the bases for Bianucci. Legging out a potential double play ball, Bianucci forced a wild throw from short. The error allowed both Cunningham and Jones to make the score 5-1 Auburn.

Following a scoreless third inning for both teams, Hendrix gave up a single run in the top of the fourth as two walks set the table and Brandon Dotson pushed across the run with a single to left field.

The Tigers again answered back in the bottom of the fourth with two runs to extend the lead. Leading things off, Caldwell again doubled to right field and moved to third on a ground ball from Cunningham as an errant throw from short left runners on the corners with nobody out. A Jones single and a Hall sacrifice fly scored both Caldwell and Cunningham to give Auburn a five-run cushion.

That was all Thompson and the Auburn bullpen would need as the sophomore shut down the Delta Devils in dominating fashion for three innings before leaving the game for Michael Hurst in the eighth inning. The Tigers added three runs to salt the game away in the bottom of the eighth as a leadoff walk to Patterson followed by hits from Caldwell, Cunningham and Hall made the final score 10-2 Tigers.

Auburn returns to action this weekend when the Tigers take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in a three-game series at Plainsman Park. Game times for the weekend are 6 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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